Southwestern Honors Legacy of Well-Known Evangelism Professor
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS)-One name is synonymous with evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: Roy Fish, distinguished professor emeritus. The seminary designated Oct. 10, 2007 as “Roy Fish Day” and celebrated the occasion during its chapel service and at a reception in his honor.
“Every single professor who has taught at this seminary has left an indelible print upon this school,” said Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary. “But there are only a handful who have left a print that you just cannot get away from no matter where you turn, including Roy Fish. He is one of the major contributors to the success of this institution.”
Fish, who has served Southwestern Seminary for more than 40 years, preached during the chapel service on the value of focus in ministry, especially in evangelism. Using 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, he illustrated how the apostle Paul was obsessed with his commission to the Gospel. Lamenting the fact that some churches spend most of their time and effort on superficial, irrelevant issues, Fish said, “Effective evangelism doesn’t come with a marked-down price tag.”
Being focused demands an absence of prejudices, he said. One of the most prevalent prejudices Christians must abandon is towards “moral lepers,” individuals who are proud of their sinful lifestyle. In conjunction with freedom from preconceptions, Fish also mentioned that churches must be culturally relevant and willing to pay the price to accomplish the goal of evangelism. Paul used illustrations from the athletic arena to emphasize the need for discipline in order to win people to Christ. “Focusing means winning!” Fish said, adding, “Will you become one to be a winner for (Christ)?”
Patterson concluded the service by allowing the near-capacity audience to honor Fish and his family through a standing ovation, which lasted several minutes. Patterson also announced that in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the seminary in 2008, the school of evangelism has issued a challenge for 100 days of personal evangelism. Seminary professors will commit to 50 consecutive days of personal evangelism, which will be followed by 50 consecutive days of student evangelism in the community.
As a gift to recognize his service, Southwestern gave Fish a custom-bound set of the books he has written and a book containing photos and personal letters from his former students and colleagues. The letters praised him for being a consistent role model and expressed gratitude for the life-changing impact he has had throughout the years.
Fish’s legacy of integrity, character and a passion for evangelism echoes through the halls of the seminary. He served as distinguished professor of evangelism and held the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism prior to his retirement. Fish was further honored in 2005, when Southwestern’s division of evangelism and missions in the School of Theology was reorganized as the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
In addition to serving Southwestern, Fish has held several prominent denominational leadership positions, including interim president of the North American Mission Board and second vice-president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has served as pastor or interim pastor at more than 20 churches, and his speaking opportunities include numerous conventions and conferences as well as preaching on every continent except Antarctica.
He has also received various awards, including the W.A. Criswell Lifetime Award in Evangelism from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), the Charles G. Finney Award for Evangelism in Theological Education, and an honorary doctorate from Southwest Baptist University. In 2006, the SBTC established the Roy Fish Evangelism Award.
Fish earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from Southwestern Seminary and has authored several books and contributed to numerous articles on evangelism. He and his wife, Jean, have four children and 11 (soon to be 13) grandchildren.
Recordings of Southwestern’s chapel services may be viewed or listened to through the seminary’s Web site, www.swbts.edu.